Community Court Watch Still Wonders… How Does the Criminal Justice System Work in Champaign County?

By Marti Wilkinson On March 13, 2007, members of the community showed up at the Urbana Civic Center to learn how the criminal justice system works. A panel comprised of Sheriff Dan Walsh, States Attorney Julia Rietz, Public Defender Randy Rosenbaum, Associate Judge Richard Klaus, and Director of Court Services Joe Gordon shared what their duties are and how they do them. After their speeches, the participants selected written questions to answer. The only parts of the evening offering anything fresh and new were the cookies served to the people who attended. During the lecture portion of the event, State’s Attorney Julia Rietz talked about how her office considers individual factors in making decisions on what criminal charges to press when a law is broken. Without revealing any names she mentioned receiving a phone call from a concerned father who wanted to see his daughters' abusive boyfriend get the book thrown at him for using his child as a human punching bag. Later in the conversation this same father pleaded for leniency on behalf of his son who got behind the wheel of a car drunk and killed somebody. She presented this as an example of how she is expected to engage in prosecutorial discretion. As part of prosecutorial discretion, she considers the history of a defendant. For instance, if a person goes to a local store and steals a bottle of liquor, chances are that person will be charged with a misdemeanor, provided that there is no other criminal history. Then, if the person proceeds to commit the same crime again and again, the end result will ultimately be a felony charge due to the person becoming a threat to society. On the surface level this makes sense to me. After all, if a person is given a chance to become a good citizen and blows it, then there is certainly reason to pursue the punishment approach. It is unfortunate that some of the choices made by the State’s Attorney’s office do not match her words. I have to question the decision Ms. Rietz made in 2006 when she decided to not pursue heavier charges against Jennifer Stark who killed a young man while she was driving down the street and downloading items to her cell phone at the same time. Considering that this was her fourth moving violation in two years, it would certainly seem reasonable to presume that Ms. Stark was not rehabilitated in her habits and it resulted in a loss of life. As it turns out the only conviction that Ms. Stark received was a guilty verdict for improper lane usage. Apparently, the State’s Attorney came to the conclusion that this individual poses no real threat to society. Additionally, it begs the question of what to do when the people who are expected to uphold the law are the ones who break it. In 2005, an Urbana Police officer named Kurt Hjort was accused of raping a woman while on duty. Hjort resigned as a result of the investigation and no charges ever got filed against him. After the panel discussion ended I approached Ms. Rietz and asked her about the case and she stated that her office holds each and every officer accountable for crimes that are committed. Considering the alleged rape occurred in 2005 and Ms. Rietz took office in 2004 it's a bit of a contradiction. She also stood firm in her decision to allow William Alan Myers, a former guard at the Champaign County Jail, to accept a plea bargain to charges associated with his decision to use a Taser on a restrained inmate and his later falsification of the reports of the incident. In return, he got two years probation and no jail time. Now exactly how did Myers end up being held accountable for his crime? When Rietz was questioned after the panel discussion, she became defensive and made it quite clear that she did not wish to discuss the matter. She mentioned that Myers will have to live with a felony conviction and the loss of his pension. Neither would she discuss why her office did not prosecute Myers when two other people brought forth allegations of inappropriate Taser usage. All it took was a simple question for Ms. Rietz to become defensive and somewhat confrontational. As an elected official in a public office she is in a position where what she does will be scrutinized and questioned. Members of the public have a right to ask questions, and the public has a right to get answers delivered in a reasonable and intelligent manner. My suggestion to Rietz is she that she either works on developing a thicker skin or reconsiders what she does for a living. As long as she is in office, there are people who will question what she does and who will not be afraid to approach her with these inquiries. That is a basic part of her job and it's not left up to prosecutorial discretion. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A Message to “All Of You Sitting Out There” From State’s Attorney Julia Rietz and Sheriff Dan Walsh. By Brian Dolinar Question: What is the ratio of black to white citizens in the number of police raids upon individuals’ homes? Sheriff Dan Walsh: I do not know the answer to that. We don’t keep statistics based on that. Question: How does the Sheriff feel about a police review board? Sheriff Dan Walsh: There is one. Its every four years for the Sheriff and any other elected official. Question: How can I as a private citizen know what police procedure is and what I should do if I find police procedure has been violated? Sheriff Dan Walsh: Police procedure’s going to depend. We get 1,000 different types of calls a year. It just depends on the type of call. If you think an officer, whether its one of my deputies or whether a city police officer, we all have formal procedures, if you wish to make a complaint, we’ll look into that. If somebody thinks one of my deputies has done something I encourage you to come into the office. We’ll ask you to fill out a complaint form and somebody will look into the matter and you’ll get a report. If we discipline them, we can’t tell you exactly what happened to the officer because that’s personnel matters. But we take it serious. Community Court Watch response: Michael Rich filed a complaint against Sgt. William Alan Myers and received a letter from the Sheriff dated August 2, 2005 stating the force used against him was “justified.” Rich says he then met with Sheriff Walsh later that month and the Sheriff assured him he would look into Sgt. Myers. Walsh did nothing. Myers went on to wrongfully use a Taser on two other inmates, both who filed their own complaints, before he was turned in by fellow officers in November 2005. Why didn’t the Sheriff take seriously the three complaints against Sgt. Myers? State’s Attorney Julia Rietz Question: Why are 90% of defendants in criminal cases African American? State’s Attorney Julia Rietz: Well, that’s not accurate actually. I have statistics from Champaign County. It is true that African Americans are overrepresented in our criminal justice system, as a they are overrepresented in many other areas. But it is not 90% of the defendants in criminal cases are African American. In 2006, we filed – and this is total charges of felonies and misdemeanors. We charged 4,845 counts of anything from a misdemeanor to felony against African Americans. 3,868 counts against Caucasians. And 452 counts against something we have marked as Other. So African Americans are overrepresented, but its not 90% of the defendants are African American. I haven’t done the math as to what that is but its 60% versus 40%, or something like that. Why is that? Well, isn’t that the million dollar question. That’s the question that is asked of all of us sitting here, in social services, in government, in our churches, in our schools. Why is that? I’m certainly not going to stand up here and tell you that I, Julia Rietz, State’s Attorney for Champaign County has the answer to that question. Because I don’t. Because none of you sitting here do either. It’s a combination of things. It’s a societal issue. It’s a chicken and egg problem. Where did it come from first? Where did it start? I can’t tell you why it is. But what I can tell you is that we all, sitting here, and all of you sitting out there, have an obligation to try to do what we can to solve that problem and to work together and to recognize that sometimes people need to rehabilitate themselves, to accept responsibility for their behavior, to go back to the victim of their crime and pay them back and go on to become productive members of the community. Community Court Watch response: [provided by Durl Kruse] In 1964, the incarceration of the population in the United States, in local, state, and federal prisons, was two-thirds white. It was one-third black. In 1994, 40 years later, the numbers are exactly flip-flopped. Today, Two-thirds of prisoners are African American. Question: By what criteria do charges get filed and dropped. Who decides to file or drop charges? Can you elaborate on how your philosophy differs from your predecessor? State’s Attorney Julia Rietz: I can give you some specific examples of philosophies I have that are different from the previous administration and some numbers to support the fact that we are following those policies. For example obstructing justice. Obstructing justice is a felony. A Class 4 felony. What the offense of obstructing justice is generally thought of is if an individual provides false information to a police officer in order to avoid his arrest or prosecution. Now this has not gained me a lot of love from the police department in a lot of ways. Because I don’t believe that obstructing justice is when somebody gets pulled over and the officer says, What’s your name? And the person says, My name is John Smith. And the officer says, You’re not John Smith, I know you’re not. And the person says, Okay you’re right I’m Bob Jones. That’s not obstructing justice in my opinion. So we have changed our charging philosophies on that. In 2004, the last year of the previous administration, they charged 230 counts of obstructing justice. In 2006, we charged 96 counts of obstructing justice. When I have my attorneys look at a report, we’re looking for something much more than Bob Jones, that example that I gave you. Obstructing justice is a real charge but it’s a very significant offense to put on someone, a Class 4 felony, that’s going to stick with them the rest of their lives, and so we look at that. Community Court Watch response: We have had three individuals come to us in the last two years who have told us they have been charged with Class 4 Felony Obstruction of Justice. One of them was an IMCista (See Public i “Rule of Law” issue, Sept. 2006). Another woman had given a wrong name to an officer and came to us after she was told the State’s Attorney would not budge from the felony charges of obstructing justice. A third man says he was illegally stopped on the North End by police who were practicing racial profiling. State’s Attorney Julia Rietz: That does not mean that we are soft on crime. What that means is that we are focusing our resources on what is what is most important in our criminal justice system: on the violent offenses, on the drug crimes, on the sexual assaults, on the homicides, instead of having our felony attorneys handling things that could be handled as misdemeanors, or be diverted. We have in Champaign County a very significant crack cocaine problem. Our crack cocaine here in Champaign County is significantly higher than it is in other counties per capita. That is something that takes up a lot of our resources because the use and abuse of crack cocaine has implications beyond just that individual. It has implications for the community as a whole, for the children in the community, and for the individual themselves. So we are very strong on our prosecution of crack cocaine cases because of the implications we have seen across the board in our community in those situations. Community Court Watch response: On Unofficial St. Patrick’s day, 162 tickets were issued with charges ranging from underage drinking, to aggravated battery, to one student who was arrested for spitting on a police officer. Another 100 tickets have been issued since the beginning of the year for alcohol related events on campus. Some numbers: -500 individuals from Champaign County went to the penitentiary last year. -Only 5% of cases go to trial. -375 felonies a year handled by the Public Defender. Illinois State Bar Association recommends 150. 18 attorneys. $850,000 annual funding. -Supreme Court rule 415c says police reports cannot bee seen by the public. After a recent decision by the State’s Attorney, police reports are no longer available to the public. Defendants can see police reports but attorneys cannot release the documents to the accused, by law. -In 2006, there were a total of 9165 counts filed, both misdemeanors and felonies. -4,845 counts were filed against blacks. -3,868 counts were against whites. -452 counts were against others.

Proportion of defendants by race

-In 2006, there were a total of 9165 counts filed, both misdemeanors and felonies.
-4,845 counts were filed against blacks.
-3,868 counts were against whites.
-452 counts were against others.

The anonymous questioner guessed that the numbers meant that 90% of the defendants were black, and Julia Rietz guessed 60%. The winner of the basic math award is ... *drumroll* ... Julia Rietz. Actually, the numbers mean that approximately 53% of criminal defendants in Champaign County last year were black and her guess was the closest.

Update: Danielle is right and it should have been titled "Charges by Race." The per defendant data is even more interesting, and that will be posted soon.

We don't have the statistics to know this yet

The pie chart above has the wrong title. We only know number of charges - not defendants. We will be getting the data soon to present accurate statistics and look at trends over time.

Fine

Fine, I was in a hurry and it should have said "charges" rather than "defendants." BTW, I got the data yesterday and believe that it would be useful to combine it with the Circuit Clerk's data for more information.

mathematics

But African Americans are only 12% of the US population. If they are 53% of defendants, they are something like 4 times as likely to be convicted as whites. That's if my math is correct. Local attorneys have told us that 90% of defendants are African American. However you crunch the numbers, this situation is totally unacceptable. BD

Race card over used again.

What percent of the defendants are in in the lower income bracket? I think this would be more of direct reflection on that stats rather than race.

PD

We're hopefully going to have some data, but I doubt that it will specifically include the defendant's income. However, it may be possible to get some information on whether the defendant qualified for a public defender, which would be an indicator of poverty.

*ahem*

...CPD geodatabase...and I've got the champaign county 2005 property-tax-by-property-feature shapefile, too, with all pertinent attribute data, as an indicator of income, if you want it.

Thanks

You're right. Sure, the property tax file could be useful, though it's also possible to get some poverty data from the Census. (Of course, the Census is decennial, so it would be less current than 2005.) FWIW, we may be talking about apples and oranges here - from what I understand, you have the data related to traffic stops, and the data coming from Rietz should be related to criminal charges. (So I'm not sure whether traffic data will be included in that.) Whenever I get the data from Rietz, you're welcome to that.

Yes and no

...there's two feature classes in the GDB. One is traffic stop data, with home addresses geocoded (no traffic stop XY was provided, in any format) The other is Service Call data, with location of response for the call geocoded, which is a little more useful. Each one of the SC features has a reason code associated with it, so you can weed out (no pun intended) drug stuff, violent stuff, some traffic, etc. I believe that there is a field that indicates whether or not an arrest was made, but I don't think there was a field that would indicate anything (like SA prosecutorial history) after the police have passed an issue off to the state's attorney. The original table, I believe, was both a personnel management tool for CPD supervisors, and a "big brother is watching you" tool for state to see what CPD is doing. Unfortunately, CPD didn't use a domain when inputting reason codes, so you'll have to pay close attention when filtering by code type. Yes, I think you're right as far as apples and oranges, though. This isn't going to give exact non-spatial information about the type of data that BD is looking for, but like I said, inferred income can be obtained by spatial location of the service call (assuming that a given call is to the home address of a subject). This might be useful, but only circumstantially, and with many, many grains of salt. Basically, the GDB-SC will give a 2005 visual snapshot about service call hotspots by reason, but it all has to be processed through a GIS first, and the more exact information you want, the more time and effort it will take. Non-spatial income stats about defendents, cases prosecuted vs cases dropped in relation to income of a defendant or indigent status/claim, would have to be obtained elsewhere, probably the state's attorney's office. ...AND, just to make it more fun, the original intent of the project that produced the GDB was designed to look at relative demographic stats - so about 1/3 of the SC feature class and well over 2/3 of the TS feature class was not geocoded for technical reasons (the reasons were unrelated to attribute data; it had to do with whether or not each geocoded point had met our arbitrary spatial confidence threshold for the geocode from the non-spatial address). Therefore, one could not look at raw numbers in the GDB and expect to get raw numbers that mean anything - all the data has to be looked it in relative terms.

SA's data

We're apparently getting data from the SA's office, though, and I don't think Rietz is imposing any restrictions on it. However, I have not yet seen this data and am not sure how much information will be in it. There will apparently be some stuff about race and charges, and I'm hoping that there will be at least enough information to link the cases to the Circuit Clerk's public database which does contain addresses and other useful information. The biggest potential challenge might be figuring out how we determine what a defendant's prior record is, because that's supposed to be a significant factor in charging and sentencing. If we see a black defendant going to prison after a shoplifting charge, and a white defendant with the same offense getting a fine and probation, we still need more information before we can say, "OMGWTFBBQ Racism!" Did either defendant have prior convictions? Were either on probation or parole at the time of the offense? The data in the Circuit Clerk's public database seems to contain a lot of free text, and accurately interpreting that could be another challenge.

OMGWTFBBQ?

Er, what? I get the "OMGWTF...", but not the "BBQ" ...and yes, apparently there are many folks out there who don't understand the significance of using domains. If you're going to input huge amounts of data, and that data MAY SOMETIME EVER get used for processing statistics, it would be incredibly beneficial, improve accuracy, and save time and money on the back end to use domains as much as possible on the front end. It even speeds up the process on the front end to use a pick list instead of free text, so I don't know why use of domains isn't one of the most heavily pressed concepts in government DBs.

OMGWTFBBQ

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=OMGWTFBBQ :) As far as structuring data, it'd be nice, but it does look like there might be some free text to deal with - the case lookup site is at https://secure.jtsmith.com/clerk/clerk.asp .

Maybe some other questions

Maybe some other questions might be: 1. How many of these arrests are police initiated vs. calls for service? 2. What are the demographics of the victims and witnesses that reported the crime? 3. Who utilizes police services more and what are their race? There might be other factors than simply the race of person arrested. I would hope the Dolinar uses a more valid means of determining racism other than "Local attorneys have told us that 90% of defendants are African American". Ok, I almost wrote that last line with a straight face. Patrick Rolman

So, what?

Statistics should be questionable, because sources of this statistics usually are. But, for example, the case of Patrick Thompson and also other cases presented on this web drew more than unfavorable image of Julia Rietz. I am, personally, because of my own experience very much not fond of Richard Klauss. I have the very solid factual background for such unfavorable opinion about him. In short, if these people are the leaders of local justice, then how can anybody here expect local justice to be just, according to our traditional, learnt in high school and from constitution, meaning?

I'm curious

Why don't you like Richard Klaus. Get a speeding ticket or something? I'm sure there were racial and societal implications attached. He probably did it because he's a racist and the system's racist. I bet it's because he was trying to maintain the status quo, keep the man down, hit his quota, etc....I'm sure that's it.

No, he became a judge less than two years ago, and I dealt with

No, he became a judge less than two years ago, and I dealt with him when he was still a lawyer. He was fully shameless, and used every possible dirty trick in the book, including sexual assaults, in his filed in court motions and other papers. Unfortunately, they worked together like a solid team with federal judge Bernthal, instead of that judge being a referee. I lost the completely obvious and winning for me case because of the fact that they were teamed up and violated any and every involved in the procedure law and court's rule. Just after I lost this case, Klauss was promoted to the County Court's judge position. It happened practically within a couple of weeks after fully improper dismissal of my case by judge Bernthal. But I had sufficient time and opportunities to experience on my own that Klauss is corrupted, fully shameless, and wouldn't hesitate to use anything and everything to get the result he wanted. In his current position I am sure that he wants to promote further his career, which means all kinds of improper judgements and illegal supports of justice system's flows at his side. He is dirty and very corrupted guy. Period.

OK

That satisfies my curiousity. Sounds like a reasonable argument. I apologize for assuming that your explanation was going to be as asinine as most everyone else's logic around here.

Confusing

I've read that drug users are comprised of 80-90% white people. Is that true? And why is this statistic being thrown around?: "According to the most recent data available (2002), Illinois ranks first in the per capita rate of incarcerated African-Americans convicted of drug possession offenses." Are there more whites in prison for drugs than blacks? What are those percentages?

Like banging your head on a wall

Getting the IMC hardcore crowd to follow logic is like doing just that. This article is nothing new. NOTHING new, at all. It's the same inane, illogical, and repetitive thought processes that have already been answered over and over. I don't know what you are expecting when you ask the same questions to the same people over and over again. Their answers are not going to change. I bet Julia Reitz was defensive and confrontational. Why wouldn't she be when she knows that your agenda is to have her hung by her toes and flogged. I think she's doing you a big favor by even trying to explain to you how her office works, because it's obviously not sinking in. I will say that Piland was better than her in the sense that he simply ignored your crowd of 20 to 40. It worked for him, and despite what you might think it was not your crew that brought him down. Reitz should do herself a big favor and just start ignoring you like Piland did. I'm sure it will make her job much less stressful. And despite what you might believe, your group has no influence on the public as a whole. Almost everyone can see through your silly arguments quite easily. Let me explain something. The system is NOT racist, there is no giant government conspiracy, and you all need to find something better to do with you your time. Feel free to call me a racist or make allusions to my white hood and robe because I DON'T CARE what you group of wackos thinks about me. You do more to hurt the liberal cause than you will ever know and for that reason, you do piss me off. If anyone normal out there is reading this, please remember that the majority of liberals and democrats are not like this.

UCIMC

I bet Julia Reitz was defensive and confrontational.

Actually, I didn't think she was - it was more like frustrated and impatient.

I will say that Piland was better than her in the sense that he simply ignored your crowd of 20 to 40. It worked for him, and despite what you might think it was not your crew that brought him down.

I'd guess that she's getting closer to writing off UCIMC. No, UCIMC didn't singlehandedly bring Piland down. He made some major errors in judgment, which made some people angry enough to spend a lot of time and energy calling attention to them. (The website about Brady Smith was not put up by UCIMC.) It didn't sound like Elizabeth Dobson was exactly an asset to him, and I'd suspect that Piland had pissed off a number of local attorneys (judging from the contributors to Rietz's campaign.) At the time, I think UCIMC sort of drew together some very outspoken people who opposed Piland, and maybe that had a little impact. Patrick Thompson and Martell Miller were involved in a case that represented one of Piland's dumbest decisions (the eavesdropping case), and Thompson and Miller also had connections to UCIMC.

UCIMC has the potential to be an asset to the community, but I think some of the stories need more fact-checking and less vitriol. An overly simplistic, black-and-white view of things isn't useful.

I agree with Rolman

Someone find the answer to Patrick Rolman's questions and I bet this would answer a lot of questions and put to rest a lot of conspiracy theories floating around here. That might take the fun out of it, but I think it would go a long way to address the issues.

class analysis

We're very interested in making a class analysis. Mr. Mortland, we'd love to know how many of the 9165 charges were against people below the poverty line. How many were unemployed for the three months previous to their charges? If you can provide this information or show us where to get it, that would be a great help. You can email me at briandolinar@gmail.com BD

Judge Klaus

Anon - if you would be willing, could you give us a case number and we will look up your case? You can email it to me at briandolinar@gmail.com BD

It's in your court

I gave the geodatabase with CPD traffic stops and service calls to wayward some time ago, in order to let her independently verify claims that I had made under a different screen name. At this point, I don't even remember what we were discussing at that time. I received the raw non-spatial data directly from the CPD Deputy Chief, and I received written permission from him to release the processed spatial data to wayward. She already has all the info you want. It's geocoded locations with attribute data for each record. All metadata about how it was processed, excluded data, and reasons for excluded data from the raw non-spatial data package were given to her as well. There's no personal financial attribute data about each record - that can only be inferred from some other source, I recommend property taxes based on home location of the individual in each record, which I have in shapefile format from CCRPC and have offered to wayward at n/c this morning, or it can be obtained at charge from CCRPC. All that really needs to be done is the GIS processing, which wayward is able to do. I spent about as much time as I ever want to spend on a single project already with this data last fall.

Yes

James did indeed give me the data, and I have it. I apologize that I haven't done much with it yet - James was very quick and helpful, but it got buried under other stuff in my schedule.

According to the Data

According to the Data Collection Report (found on the City Wedsite) presented by CPD in 2005 the majority of calls for service came from the northeast part of town. The campus area also was a high area for summoning police services. Their chart indicates that African Americans are reported witnesses 32% of all reports, victims in 30% of the reports and reported suspects in 64% of the reports. These numbers are not self-initiated police activities. Another question that I would ask is how many crimes in the Champaign County Courts are victim reported. Are African Americans over represented in the system according to their race? Yes, they are. But they also use the services of the Criminal Justice System in unproportional rates as well. People, there are no easy answers to these questions, but if you refuse to consider all factors, then we will continue to simply live off the myths of the few who have skewed agendas. Patrick Rolman

Full circle...

http://www.ci.champaign.il.us/public_safety/page.php?pn=idottraff That report is what started the CPD GDB project. I (we) took the raw data that that report is based off of and did our own spatial vs demographics analysis. That same GDB is the one that wayward has.

Mathematics

In order to look for local racial disparities in charging, we need local percents, not national. The figure of 12% black for the whole country was mentioned by Brian, but I'd guess that UC is more like 30% black. Even with the local figures, we are not calculating the actual disparity in charging, but only estimating it. This is because we are using the percent of a population charged, not the percent of those who commit crimes. That is to say, the question we are really trying to ask is "is a black person who commits a crime more likely to be charged than a white person who commits a crime?" Does anyone know the racial breakdown of UC, for starts? Then we need to see if we can correct for age and employment. If we don't do this calculation properly, the conclusions are worse than useless if we act on them.

Champaign County

More accurately, who knows the racial breakdown in Champaign County? State's Attorney deals with UC and the surrounding towns. BD

Via the 2000 Census


Champaign County, Illinois
Total: 179,669
Population of one race: 176,094
White alone 141,536
Black or African American alone 20,045
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 433
Asian alone 11,592
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
alone
72
Some other race alone 2,416
Population of two or more races: 3,575
Population of two races: 3,356
White; Black or African American 980
White; American Indian and Alaska Native 405
White; Asian 772
White; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific
Islander
28
White; Some other race 597
Black or African American; American Indian
and Alaska Native
142
Black or African American; Asian 69
Black or African American; Native Hawaiian
and Other Pacific Islander
3
Black or African American; Some other race 96
American Indian and Alaska Native; Asian 32
American Indian and Alaska Native;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
0
American Indian and Alaska Native; Some
other race
30
Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific
Islander
80
Asian; Some other race 116
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific
Islander; Some other race
6
Population of three races: 207
White; Black or African American; American
Indian and Alaska Native
84
White; Black or African American; Asian 21
White; Black or African American;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
0
White; Black or African American; Some
other race
27
White; American Indian and Alaska Native;
Asian
11
White; American Indian and Alaska
Native;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
4
White; American Indian and Alaska Native;
Some other race
7
White; Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other
Pacific Islander
20
White; Asian; Some other race 16
White; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific
Islander; Some other race
0
Black or African American; American Indian
and Alaska Native; Asian
4
Black or African American; American Indian
and Alaska Native;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
1
Black or African American; American Indian
and Alaska Native;

Some other race
5
Black or African American; Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
2
Black or African American; Asian; Some
other race
1
Black or African American;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
American Indian and Alaska Native;
Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
1
American Indian and Alaska Native; Asian;
Some other race
0
American Indian and Alaska Native;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific
Islander; Some other race
3
Population of four races: 8
White; Black or African American; American
Indian and Alaska Native;

Asian
2
White; Black or African American; American
Indian and Alaska Native;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
1
White; Black or African American; American
Indian and Alaska Native;

Some other race
1
White; Black or African American;
Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
0
White; Black or African American;
Asian;

Some other race
0
White; Black or African American;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
1
White; American Indian and Alaska Native;
Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
3
White; American Indian and Alaska Native;
Asian;

Some other race
0
White; American Indian and Alaska
Native;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
White; Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other
Pacific Islander;

Some other race
0
Black or African American; American Indian
and Alaska Native; Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
0
Black or African American; American Indian
and Alaska Native;

Asian; Some other race
0
Black or African American; American Indian
and Alaska Native;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
Black or African American; Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
American Indian and Alaska Native;
Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
Population of five races: 4
White; Black or African American; American
Indian and Alaska Native;

Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
3
White; Black or African American; American
Indian and Alaska Native;

Asian; Some other race
1
White; Black or African American; American
Indian and Alaska Native;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
White; Black or African American;
Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
White; American Indian and Alaska Native;
Asian;

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
Black or African American; American Indian
and Alaska Native;

Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0
Population of six races: 0
White; Black or African American; American
Indian and Alaska Native;

Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander; Some other race
0

Stats

This is more or less correct: Champaign County: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champaign_County%2C_Illinois#Demographics Champaign: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champaign%2C_IL#Demographics For GIS operaters, actual Census 2000 and 1990 spatial (TIGER/Line) demographic data by block, block group, or tract (with associated demographic tables re: age, race, sex, etc) can be obtained in shapefile format n/c (there's no .prj files associated with them, you'll need to define projection for NAD83 and project on your own)at: http://arcdata.esri.com/data/tiger2000/tiger_download.cfm But...we might have more recent data for Champaign proper on the way soon... http://www.illinipundit.com/2007/03/15/champaign-special-census

Racial Disparity Endemic in the Illinois Legal System

Racial Disparity in the Illinois Legal System Comments like “playing the race card” tend to demonstrate that those using them really don’t take race seriously as a factor leading to bias. Racism is not a game. Dismissing those who raise important questions about race is playing games with the lives of others, usually from a position of white privilege. Racism remains a serious social problem. Institutions that consistently produce racially biased results have no place in a democratic society – and must either be reformed or abolished. I know statistics that describe the racially skewed results of the Champaign County are available, but I have only been able to locate a few sources that describe the wider problem of how race functions in the overall Illinois legal system. However, this is something I wrote and posted in response to a very similar line of argumentation made by trolls attacking coverage of the Patrick Thompson case. [Another troll stated at that time:] "In fact, I've been very explicit in this string in stating that if there's problems with the system, you need to identify them in realistic, concrete terms..." Well, you and those who keep -- ignorantly or otherwise -- insisting here that Illinois justice has no issues with racial disparity just keep ignoring the hard "concrete" facts. How about Illinois having a drug war that has as its result the absolutely ridiculous outcome that for every white male jailed for drugs, 57 black men are in prison. Are you trying to tell us that black males in Illinois are 57 times as likely to engage in drug use as the average white male? If you think that is true, either you're smoking crack yourself or you're an outright racist. For more: http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/drugs/war/rates-b&w.htm BTW, Illinois has the WORST and most disparate ratio of white to black drug offenders in the nation. With numbers like that, one would think that it is an implicit requirement that at least one Klan member be on any Illinois jury -- but that isn't true. It's mostly white people just like you sitting on those juries, rubberstamping the results of a racist system because it's too much cognitive dissonance for you to even consider this reality that minority citizens face everyday of their lives in Illinois. Or maybe you just don't care because you're white and you think it's no problem for you? A lot of white folks are like that. They're part of the problem. I am eagerly waiting the outcome of the FOIA requests to Champaign County on what the exact rates of imprisonment by race are locally. They may be a bit better than the statewide rates -- I certainly hope so or I'll be even more embarrassed for my community than I already am -- but I'm sure they are still outrageously disparate. Then you tell us that after proving what I just proved that we need to come up with a solution for the problems of racial disparity "to address those with realistic, concrete solutions, in a manner that is palatable to those who have the power to change what's wrong." There are people with the power change things, sure, but they benefit from this system. White judges White law-enforcement White prosecutors White jury members Many white voters You. Until y'all get your head out of your ass and quit insisting there is "no problem" nothing is likely to change. You've set -up a nice little rhetorical Catch 22 for those seeking justice. The problem is your assertions of racial equity are simply not believable in light of the results of what is called "justice" in Illinois. Your assertions of where the burden of proof is on this issue are as patently unfair as what just went on in Patrick's trial -- you've offered no evidence of justice in the face of manifest injustice. Now we return to the present, in which defenders of this racially biased system continue to attack activists working to bring a more balanced approach to the legal system. I don’t know if the FOIA requests cited ever resulted in specific statistics for Champaign County. Perhaps it turned out that the data is too embarrassing to release and the “justice” system is still fighting it. Does anyone know? Nevertheless, we know that prisoners released from the Illinois Dept. of Corrections are 67% black [A Portrait of Prison Reentry in Illinois]. Downstate politicians see the Illinois prison system as a patronage cash cow, as it brings jobs and contracts to their districts, as well as padding their census figures to unfairly siphon government money based on population, when much of the population is in prison and is covered by other state funding [ Race, Place, and the Perils of Prisonomics: Beyond the big-stick, low-road, and zero-sum mass incarceration con a>]. Racially disparate outcomes are especially grevious in how drug crimes of youthful offenders are handled [Drugs and Disparity: The Racial Impact of Illinois' Practice of Transferring Young Drug Offenders to Adult Court I think it is fair to raise the question of “who benefits” in regards to such disparities, because the net effect is that they show that the legal system itself is perpetuating racially biased outcomes by its very structure. Now, based on the way they’ve conducted themselves here, I expect the trolls to quickly try to change the subject to something else, to raise other red herrings, to distract us from the obvious failures of the system with snide remarks. But a system that has an incarceration rate of just 251 whites per 100,000 compared to 1,889 blacks per 100,000 is de facto racially biased [Racial Disparity in Illinois . The question is no longer at all about the nature of the system. It is racist. The only pertinent question is “What is to be done.” And “nothing” – as the trolls imply – is NOT an option.

...and so ends what little help I was offering...

Comments like "historian"s do nothing to help the situation - they merely exacerbate it. Call it a response to trolling, whatever: it only inflames, and then no one who has the ability to change things will do anything but get defensive. Even BD has been uncharactaristically calm during this particular discussion, which is why I've been trying to help coordinate information flow between wayward, et al, about what information I do know a little bit. So I'm done now. No fanfare, just "see ya."

poverty still the issue

I believe poverty plays a bigger role in this than race.

So we await the tallies.....

Of the 500 people sent to prison every year from Champaign County, how many are black? Seriously. How hard is that number to find? Prosecutorial discretion is what we want to measure.....and judges don't usually void the State's Attorney's recommendation at sentencing hearings. There's two things going on here: white police officers who prefer and are willing to arrest blacks or what's called "officer discretion". White lawyers who prefer to prosecute and send blacks to prison. Hard to accept, but that's what's happening. Prove it wrong, then.... None of the kids who got caught on UnOfficial St. Pat's Day will do a day of prison time. They've got credit cards and were likely charged with minor offenses. For state troopers to suspend the DUI laws for that special day was an example of their clear bias. What's particularly sickening is white law enforcement might try to "balance" the numbers by going after more white kids.Then again, the drug war won't sit well with white suburbia. It's one thing to dismiss and disparage "activists" and "whining minorities", it will be quite another thing to challenge the white homeowners from Cherry Hills/Ironwood/Stonecreek/Berringer Commons/ect. Yesterday's News-Gazette revealed who the drunks and druggies are. And it ain't in the hood. Can you say Sorority and Fraternity?

I'm with Mortland. Both

I'm with Mortland. Both anonymous statements fail to even begin to bring any level of reasonable conversation into this issue. If the activists think that the system is racist and blacks over represent the system because of the whiteness at each level of the system and your answer is not arrest more white kids to balance the numbers, then what IS your solution? Unofficial had how many felonies? From the 9165 charges filed at the States Attorneys office 500 actually went to prison. That doesn't sound like very many to me. Hiding in your race card excuses doesn't change or explain the prison rate, drop out rate, teen pregnancy rate, poverty rate, victimization rate, or fatherless rates of black society. The chances of each of these conditions to have been collectively perpetuated by a group of white conspirators prosecuting, flunking, stealing, impregnating and abandoning, the black community is your excuse not to take any responsibility for your own life. And that is very, very sad. I suggest counseling. Patrick Rolman

Not very many...

> From the 9165 charges filed at the States Attorneys office > 500 actually went to prison. That doesn't sound like very many to me. Note first that that was 9165 felonies+misdemeanors; the numbers of felonies, from which incarceration was much more likely, were probably a good deal smaller. From Randy Rosenbaum's figures (7 felony public defenders, ~375 cases/defender/year, 80% of felonies handled by PDs) it sounds like ~3500 felonies, so maybe a seventh or a tenth or so got prison sentences. Note too that 500 imprisonments out of ~200,000 Champaign County residents might not seem like that many, but that sense would likely change if *you* were one of them. It would also seem a lot different if you looked at imprisonments of black people per unit black population; if even half of those 500 were black, that'd be 250 out of about 20,000 during the year, or more than 1% per year. I'll bet (no statistics) that a large fraction of those charged & imprisoned are young black males, and that risk of imprisonment of them per year is much higher still. The criminal justice system would have a very different face to me if I ran a (say) 1-in-20 risk of being sent to jail each year! You mention in another posting that most of those jailed are there because of violent crimes, multiple offenses, or more-than-user quantities of drugs. I'd like to know how true that is -- especially, how accurate is the they're-there-to-reduce-the-danger-to-society line that we hear, and heard again in this week's presentations. I am suspicious of that line, but am open to putting that suspicion to statistical test. You might find it interesting to come sometimes to CUCPJ meetings and hear what some people -- especially some members of the black community -- encounter in their interactions with the criminal justice system, in ways small and large. A black man ticketed for jaywalking as he walked in the street after a snowfall covered the sidewalks, while white neighbors, also walking in the street, were unchallenged. Lowell Helm, another black man, whose felony charge was raised to class X because the police found a stolen gun hidden in a house where he had been -- even though the gun was not involved in the alleged crime, and the gun was not even Helm's, as both Helm and the gun's owner attested. The criminal justice system is given a lot of leeway in how it interprets and enforces the law. This isn't necessarily inappropriate. But in the presence of society-wide bias about racial patterns of behavior, intention, "shiftlessness", ... -- bias which some of our ancestors have worked hard to promote, and some today work to sustain in the public mind -- pervasive bias can lead to pervasive inequality of treatment, *even without deliberate intention*. That's why it's so insidious. I wouldn't ask the criminal justice system to heal our social ills, but do expect it not to exacerbate them. If driving while white isn't a crime, neither should be driving while black.

Not very many...

Sorry -- didn't mean to be anonymous when posting the above. The "Not very many..." posting to which this is a reply was posted by me, Stuart Levy.

Fixed, sort of

I was able to sort of fix the author field, FWIW.

POVERTY

"Of the 500 people sent to prison every year from Champaign County, how many are black? Seriously. How hard is that number to find?" The number is easy to find but do you really think just that number is proof of racism? If so you are very naive and ignorant, (no offense meant). People sell drugs to make money. The majority of the people selling drugs come from the poverty level. The majority of thieves, robbers and burglars also come from the poverty level. These crimes account for the largest percentage of incarcerated adult males in prison. So again, POVERTY not race.

Try Some Facts

If you are arguing that the most racially disparate sentencing patterns in the nation are due to poverty, you'll have to pick a much poorer state than Illinois to make that a credible argument. Illinois is the 14th richest state in the nation in 2004, by average median household income [see http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/income04/statemhi.html]. I see little to no evidence for any correlation between poverty and racially disparate imprisonment rates. I suppose the next argument out of your mouth will be that it's black folks who are poor, so I shouldn't make an argument based on a sample of all households. Then you'll have -- once again -- a dramatic racial disparity staring you in the face. In statistics drawn from a different year (2000), it is true that the average for all Illinoisans is 10.7%, but the rate for African-American's is 26%. While it is 150% higher than the state average, that does not account for the roughly 750% higher rate of incarceration for blacks. Another problem with conservatives trotting out poverty as a factor to wholly account for racial disparities in society is what they propose to do about poverty -- NOTHING. Conservatives could care less if large sectors of the population are poor and actively resist efforts to do anything to address these disparities, which are often also linked to racial discrimination. Conservatives are just as willing to defend disparities of income as they are unwilling to address disparities of other types. It's a neat little Catch 22 and lets them claim that they bear no responsibility for social factors that account for significant racial disparities. As for what is to be done, the problem of racially disparate outcomes in the legal system is largely due to the overdependence -- due in part to conservative fearmongering and grandstanding a la Willie Horton -- on punishment and repression as a means of dealing with the effects of systemic disparities in our society. Here's a link to an alternative approach that could be useful: http://www.prisonpolicy.org/ Here is some food for though. We'll only create a prison society for everyone -- except the wealthy, of course -- if we continue to pursue the current policy of trying to imprison our way out of social problems. NINE PERSPECTIVES FOR PRISON ABOLITIONISTS Perspective 1: Imprisonment is morally reprehensible and indefensible and must be abolished. In an enlightened free society, prison cannot endure or it will prevail. Abolition is a long range goal; an ideal. The eradication of any oppressive system is not an easy task. But it is realizable, like the abolition of slavery or any liberation, so long as there is the will to engage in the struggle. Perspective 2: The message of abolition requires "honest" language and new definitions. Language is related to power. We do not permit those in power to control our vocabulary. Using "system language" to call prisoners "inmates" or punishment "treatment," denies prisoners the reality of their experience and makes us captives of the old system. Our own language and definitions empower us to define the prison realistically. Perspective 3: Abolitionists believe reconciliation, not punishment, is a proper response to criminal acts. The present criminal (in)justice systems focus on someone to punish, caring little about the criminal's need or the victim's loss. The abolitionist response seeks to restore both the criminal and the victim to full humanity, to lives of integrity and dignity in the community. Abolitionists advocate the least amount of coercion and intervention in an individual's life and the maximum amount of care and services to all people in the society. Perspective 4: Abolitionists work with prisoners but always remain "nonmembers" of the established prison system. Abolitionists learn how to walk the narrow line between relating to prisoners inside the system and remaining independent and "outside" that system. We resist the compelling psychological pressures to be "accepted" by people in the prison system. We are willing to risk pressing for changes that are beneficial to and desired by prisoners. In relating to those in power, we differentiate between the personhood of system managers (which we respect) and their role in perpetuating an oppressive system. Perspective 5: Abolitionists are "allies" of prisoners rather than traditional "helpers." We have forged a new definition of what is truly helpful to the caged, keeping in mind both the prisoner's perspective and the requirements of abolition. New insights into old, culture-laden views of the "helping relationship" strengthen our roles as allies of prisoners. Perspective 6: Abolitionists realize that the empowerment of prisoners and ex-prisoners is crucial to prison system change. Most people have the potential to determine their own needs in terms of survival, resources and programs. We support self-determination of prisoners and programs which place more power in the hands of those directly affected by the prison experience. Perspective 7: Abolitionists view power as available to each of us for challenging and abolishing the prison system. We believe that citizens are the source of institutional power. By giving support to or withholding support from-specific policies and practices, patterns of power can be altered. Perspective 8: Abolitionists believe that crime is mainly a consequence of the structure of society. We devote ourselves to a community change approach. We would drastically limit the role of the criminal (in)justice systems. We advocate public solutions to public problems-greater resources and services for all people. Perspective 9: Abolitionists believe that it is only in a caring community that corporate and individual redemption can take place. We view the dominant culture as more in need of "correction" than the prisoner. The caring communities have yet to he built.

Poverty statistics

Here are some poverty statistics for Champaign County from 2000. I included the totals, along with figures for black, hispanic, Asian, and white alone. Note that some people reported themselves as having multiple races or belonging to other groups so the subgroup numbers won't add up to the total.

Age range Total Black Alone Hispanic/Latino Asian White Alone
Population 164,670 18,521 4130 9640 131,236
Poverty total 26,460 5,631 1223 3455 15,864
Percent poor 16.1 30.4 29.6 35.8 12.1

ex-illinoisan

Here's very straightforward, simple solution (and though it's not palatable to those in power, what solution really will be?): Decriminalize drug use. Sending someone to prison for harming themselves with drugs (i.e. sending someone to a place where they will be beaten and raped) *for their own good* is pretty disgusting and does not achieve the stated aim (preventing drug use). After this is done, we can see if there are any disparities left, and what the causes may be. (And of course we need to keep in mind that disparities in numbers of people prosecuted and convicted does not automatically mean that there is racism or bias.) Eliminating the "crime" of drug use, that seems to be disproportionately enforced against people of color, will make the whole situation a lot easier to figure out. In addition to correcting a major injustice, it will clear space in prison for the people who really deserve to be there.

"Unofficial [St. Patrick's

"Unofficial [St. Patrick's Day] had how many felonies?" Not many due to officer discretion. Many felonies were committed. Officers CHOSE not to handle them as felonies. Doesn't mean they didn't happen. "...the prison rate, drop out rate, teen pregnancy rate, poverty rate, victimization rate, or fatherless rates of black society. The chances of each of these conditions to have been collectively perpetuated by a group of white conspirators prosecuting, flunking, stealing, impregnating and abandoning, the black community is your excuse not to take any responsibility for your own life." Rolman, is this what you think of the black race, really? "People sell drugs to make money." Yes they very much do. Ask Scott Cochrane, Jack Troxell, Eric Myers, etc. They make tons of money, literally selling drugs to your children. The difference is how white cops and white lawyers react to one kind of selling of drugs to another. Again, officers, I encourage you to look at www.leap.cc for more information.

While I don't support

While I don't support legalizing drugs I do agree that drug users need other options other than prison. The problem is that most people do not go to prison for just possessing drugs despite the myths of the one joint life sentence urban legends. Most people are in prison for violent crimes, multiple convictions, and larger than user quantities. However, this is a valid issue for discussion. Many crimes involving users involve burglaries, robberies and theft crimes. Rarely will you find a robber or burglar, who does not, upon sentencing, state that they were just trying to feed their family. They always use the addiction as causation. But, once again, it does require our society to shift more to a paradigm for finding a solution to drug use to prevent crime. Legalization is not necessarily going to eliminate the collateral crimes involved in drug use. Users will still need to fund their drug through some means, and that normally will be crime. Unless the government is going to fund the distribution of drugs, the market will still have the lawless culture. Government funding of drugs has never been successful in any society and would not work here either. Given the fact that users come from all soci-economic levels the poor would continue to steal to buy drugs and end up incarcerated and the wealthy will simply be able to afford the drugs legally. Thus, we end up with the same demographics as we currently have now. However, once again, I do believe that more could be done to address the issues of the users earlier in the process. Patrick Rolman

Criminal Justice and Race

"...do you really think just that number [how many are black of the 500 a year who go to prison from Champaign County] is proof of racism?" Yes, it very well may. Where cops patrol, who the cops choose to arrest, and mercy of the prosecutors and judges depends on your color and income. That's the pattern that needs to be disproven by our (pa)trolling officers. Get going gentlemen....

"Rolman, is this what you

"Rolman, is this what you think of the black race, really?" No, this is what the statisical facts show. What does your stats show? Are African Americans NOT over represented in these areas? My question is deeper than simply racism. Nice attempt at trying to show the presenter of the facts as racist, great argument BD. Patrick Rolman

"Yes, it very well may.

"Yes, it very well may. Where cops patrol, who the cops choose to arrest, and mercy of the prosecutors and judges depends on your color and income. That's the pattern that needs to be disproven by our (pa)trolling officers. Get going gentlemen...." I'm not sure the "(pa)trolling officers" need to disprove something that has never been proven in the first place. Until your "opinions" become facts, I think the issues of race and poverty in the criminal justice system speaks for itself. Patrick Rolman

Keep Waving Your Hands in The Air

Sure, Pat. Keep waving your hands in the air and you'll make those prisons full of black bodies disappear. You don't even grant them the humanity of being facts -- facts you can't explain and that leave you barely able to even find weak words to defend this corrupt, racist system. It is not anyone's "opinion" that the prisons are full of African-Americans convicted of drug crimes, grossly and egregiously out of proportion to either their representation in society or what even the government itself describes as rates of drug use lower than that of whites. It is a FACT. And you've still not come up with any explanation better than a statistically impossible reliance on chance to explain this FACT. Hell, you should buy a lotto ticket, as your odds are better of winning there than of coming up with any evidence other than systemic racism to account for such outcomes.

Do alcoholics steal to

Do alcoholics steal to support their habit, and doesn't the stealing of property go against the principle of "worst of the worst should only go to prison"? "Most people are in prison for violent crimes"- really? "...multiple convictions,..." what kind of multiple convictions, how many convictions? "...and larger than user quantities." Well, yeah, you would want to have a healthy stock for your WILLING customers. Again, it's the way cops and lawyers choose to react to the grams of whatever. The case against alcohol is much stronger as to the harm done to society. We have a lot of studies and research topics here. Where are you now U of I? Oh, wait, wouldn't a thorough study of these issues jeapordize job security for the union of prison guards and the rest of the law enforcement community?

Unfortunately historian,

Unfortunately historian, your complex theory of conspiracies that cross local and federal levels, integrating into public education, workforce, and family dysfunctionality all caused by a cop responding to a 911 call, negates the theory of Occam's razor. Sorry it just doesn’t hold water no matter how many times you repeat it. Try opening your mind to more than just one cause for this complex issue and you may be surprised at how much you learn. Patrick Rolman

not that simple

Look, anonymous, there IS a problem here with the numbers. If blacks use drugs at the same rates as whites, then why are they convicted for drug crimes so much more often? It certainly looks like there's some kind of bias at work. It sure doesn't require any kind of complicated conspiracy. If blacks are pulled over in their cars more often, if cops and prosecutors are often racist, then the higher conviction rates happen as a matter of course. No big conspiracy needed. That being said, it is also true, I believe, that black people are more likely to be both victims and perpetrators of violent crime. They also score lower on standardized tests and drop out of school more often. This is a serious problem that white guilt can't solve in any obvious way. Look, this is neither Fox news nor Air America... it's really OK to have a more nuanced view...

The thing that makes me

The thing that makes me chuckle at all of this is that this group is the same group that locks their doors and night and calls the police when a black man lingers for too long outside their house (I've personally seen this happen before and a cop friend of mine said that this seems to happen on a semi-regular basis). It's okay then, because you all can use your obviously superior intellect to deduce that this black man was, in fact, going to do something illegal and therefore it was okay for you to call the police and have him moved along. However, when someone else does it, they are obviously a simplistic, racist troll. LOL....keep em coming.. And while I was snortling about the 'nine perspectives for prison abolishonists,' I had a couple of serious questions pop into my head. How do murderers reconcile with their victims? And a couple of years ago I remember reading a story in the paper about a man who threw a pan of hot grease on his girlfriend, seriously burning her face and upper torso permanently. Again, how does one 'reconcile' that? How is prison 'morally reprehensible' but their is no condemnation in your nine points for actions such as what I have just mentioned? Just wondering. Please keep your responses short, as I am not as intelligent as the rest of you. And I am planning on someone letting me know that not all of you (us, whatever) agree with that. I understand that. But I also suspect that more than one of you most likely do agree with that utter nonsense, which seriously makes me (an average joe) doubt your credibility as a group. Totally unfair of me, I know, but I'm just being honest. I just picked up on this thread tonight and got to read the whole thing at once. I found it hilarious that as I'm reading through them, I'm assigning each poster a certain level of credibility based on the logic of their arguments. The one guy, James Mortland, sounded like he really had his shit together and he was coming at it from a purely statistical point of view. And then what happens. Some nut job starts spouting off about unbelievably stupid shit and the one sane guy (ok, one of the sane guys) says sayonara, you're nucking futs. LOLLLLLLL. Pull it together guys.

Not me

No, the "has their s**t together" award goes to wayward. She has both the brains, the know-how, the reasonable disposition, and the gumption to stick it out even in the face of rampant stupidity.

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